My Korean after 15 years

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

It's been 15 years since I first learned Korean, and 13-14 since I've known it to fluency, and since then I haven't spent a day without spending at least a few hours using it. When learning a language you not only learn a language but also create your own way of speaking it, in the same way you do with any other language including your first one, and I thought it would be interesting to jot down a few points on what characteristics my Korean has. They are in no particular order, and I think I'll update the post from time to time as others come to mind.

  • 가르치다 vs. 가리키다 - always make sure to properly use 가르치다. Same for 다르다 vs. 틀리다. It bugs me a little when I hear it used wrongly, but it's so prevalent that I won't ever mention it.
  • 너무 vs. 아주. 너무 when technically used wrongly in positive sentences (너무 더워) doesn't bug me. I think trying to correct people on this is a battle that has long since been lost.
  • ㅇ is cute. Words that have a lot of ㅇ in them have always and still do sound cute. 엉덩이, 비행기, 꽹과리, ~쟁이, even 약쟁이 and 술주정뱅이.
  • That might be why I don't mind seeing and writing 뱅기 for 비행기 even though I'm a purist otherwise when it comes to spelling.
  • On that note, I strongly dislike seeing words like 저나 (전화) and 시러 (싫어) and all the rest of these lazy spellings.
  • Of course spellings like 쬐끔 for 조금 and so on are completely fine as they change the meaning. You can almost see the person making the two-finger gesture when saying 쬐끔.
  • 가지고 - for some reason I still dislike using 가지고 where you connect it to a verb/adjective like 더워가지고 or 돈이 없어가지고. Feels whiny or unfocused, I always hear people using it when grousing on the phone with a friend or girlfriend in a low voice at a PC bang or somewhere and it doesn't make me want to do the same.
  • I like when phrases like 단언컨대 that are usually more literary than colloquial suddenly get popular and get used a lot for a while.
  • I'm not sure if I care that 부셔버리다 is incorrect while 부숴버리다 is not. Maybe I should.
  • Korean is a lot of fun when you get to the end of a sentence and your brain kind of wants to say two things at once and you end up with a mix of the two. I do this a lot when my mind is elsewhere. For example I saw my cat on the stairs the other day when I thought she was sleeping and wanted to say to her 오, 여기 있었어? But I also wanted to say 오, 여기 있었구나! So what came out sounded something like 여깄었크써? as my brain decided it would be a good idea to just mash them together in lieu of choosing one.
  • I never do any code switching (e.g. unnecessarily adding a bunch of English words into my Korean) unless I'm with a Korean who also speaks Japanese. Then it's code switching galore. It's so easy to switch between one and the other and sometimes the exact thing I want to say is in one language, not the other. Things like そう言われたくない! or 文句ある? or 平気 and so on just tend to slip out.
  • I still don't have a Korean name for myself. Just 데이빛 with that exact spelling. I've played around with the idea of 데이(day)빛(light) becoming 일광(日光) but that's an awkward-sounding name.
  • If I had to choose a surname for myself it might be 남궁. I have a tiny stuffed bear I got in 2004 that I've named 남궁덕전. He still travels with me in my pocket sometimes.
  • Apparently 이 is now preferred to 이빨 but I still stick with 이빨 most of the time because it's not a homonym for anything else.
  • I don't much care for the double 지 in phrases like 공부를 해야지 합격하지. I stick to 공부를 해야 합격하지.
  • Sometimes a phrase gets put on hold for usage in my head because I've only heard it used by a girl. Once I hear it used by a man as well then it's good to go. Phrases like 안봐도 비디오야, which feels a bit girlish but maybe that's just me. Outright 애교 of course is obviously girlish, but the possibly girlish phrases are the ones that get a question mark.
  • I use a certain amount of 막, but not too much.
  • Korean is the only language I talk to animals in. English just feels awkward now.

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How to avoid boredom when repeatedly listening to audio

Friday, March 18, 2016

Repetition is very important when learning a language. Repetition is very important. Repetition is very important.

The problem is that your mind doesn't always agree, especially when you are already somewhat proficient in a language. Once you've read and listened to a text once or twice that you completely or mostly understand you are now completely bored by it, and when listening to it again your mind has a strong tendency to wander.

To make things worse, even when repeatedly listening to a text you'll find yourself able to pay attention to the parts you understand, while the parts that are too complicated, too fast, too garbled to understand clearly just zoom by. So upon listening to a text five times for example your mind will have taken note five times of the parts you already understand well, and will more than likely have glossed over the more important parts.

My trick here is the following.


  • I cut and paste a short section of text, about twenty or thirty words in length. Then I use Audacity to select the matching audio,
  • a short section of text, about twenty or thirty words in length. Then I use Audacity to select the matching audio, and as I go along,
  • about twenty or thirty words in length. Then I use Audacity to select the matching audio, and as I go along, I delete the preceding parts,
  • words in length. Then I use Audacity to select the matching audio, and as I go along, I delete the preceding parts, and add a bit at a time.
  • Then I use Audacity to select the matching audio, and as I go along, I delete the preceding parts, and add a bit at a time. This forces you
  • use Audacity to select the matching audio, and as I go along, I delete the preceding parts, and add a bit at a time. This forces you to listen repeatedly,
  • to select the matching audio, and as I go along, I delete the preceding parts, and add a bit at a time. This forces you to listen repeatedly, while keeping the content new.
  • the matching audio, and as I go along, I delete the preceding parts, and add a bit at a time. This forces you to listen repeatedly, while keeping the content new. If necessary
  • and as I go along, I delete the preceding parts, and add a bit at a time. This forces you to listen repeatedly, while keeping the content new. If necessary you can also use
  • I delete the preceding parts, and add a bit at a time. This forces you to listen repeatedly, while keeping the content new. If necessary you can also use text-to-speech
  • the preceding parts, and add a bit at a time. This forces you to listen repeatedly, while keeping the content new. If necessary you can also use text-to-speech such as
  • and add a bit at a time. This forces you to listen repeatedly, while keeping the content new. If necessary you can also use text-to-speech such as in Google Translate,
  • a bit at a time. This forces you to listen repeatedly, while keeping the content new. If necessary you can also use text-to-speech such as in Google Translate, if you can
  • at a time. This forces you to listen repeatedly, while keeping the content new. If necessary you can also use text-to-speech such as in Google Translate, if you can stand
  • This forces you to listen repeatedly, while keeping the content new. If necessary you can also use text-to-speech such as in Google Translate, if you can stand the artificial voice.


So in the example above you've encountered the term "matching audio" eight times before it gets deleted, but while doing so you're listening to something new at the end. When you end up deleting the term you encounter it one more time, and hopefully at that point you know whether you are familiar enough with it to delete it. If it still feels like you won't be able to recall it and use it on your own, then you may want to make a note of it or put it into your Anki deck.

For me this is actually the only way I can stand listening to something over and over again, unless it's content that well and truly interests me - the German audiobook of Demian, Rai's great biography of Wilhelm II, things like that. Otherwise I need to use this trick to keep my mind from wandering. If you're the same type of person then give this method a try.


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New pictures of Occator coming soon

Wednesday, March 02, 2016

At long last, we're very close to getting pictures of Occator (the crater with the bright spots on Ceres) from Dawn's current and closest orbit. Mark Rayman's Dawn Journal goes over the mission in February in general, and in a comment below he said the folllowing:

Marc Rayman: 03/01/2016 03:43 CST

ChrisMan and Franklin: I appreciate your interest in Occator, and I understand your eagerness. We have released several images of it from our third mapping orbit at 915 miles. I mentioned in my Feb. 5 mission status report on the Dawn website that we were not even going to acquire our first picture of it in this fourth mapping orbit until late February. As I also explained there, we will release the pictures after following our normal process.
So that along with Super Choose Day today makes the beginning of this month a very memorable one.

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How many Italians live in Canada?

Sunday, February 28, 2016

I found a page here that has some numbers for some of Canada's larger cities, according to which:

Le statistiche dell’AIRE del 2008, percio’ recentissime, dicono che gli iscritti italiani sono 121.000 così ripartiti: 62.564 a Toronto – 35.232 a Montreal – 18.902 a Vancouver e 4793 ad Ottawa.
Assuming we're talking about metropolitan areas here, that gives us the following ratio:

Toronto: 62,564 / 5.5 million = 1.1%
Montreal: 35,232 / 3.8 million = 0.9%
Vancouver: 18,902 / 2.8 million = 0.7%
Ottawa: 4793 / 1.2 million = 0.4%

On top of that are people of Italian heritage, almost 1.5 million in total, that may or may not know the language. Half of them are in Ontario, 30% in Quebec, and the rest are divided up between everywhere else.
Secondo le ultime statistiche del governo canadese le persone che si sono dichiarate di origine italiana sono 1.445.330 e il 50% di queste risiede nella provincia dell’Ontario, il 30% nel Quebec ed il resto nelle altre provincie; ad Ottawa, la capitale del Canada, vivono circa 40.000 italiani.

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The countries in Southeast Asia on the US's radar

Monday, February 22, 2016

This article on Obama's courting (for lack of a better word) countries in China's periphery is a short but good read, and lists the countries themselves:

Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar (Burma), the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam.

Adding to that a few of the US's existing allies in the region (map made thanks to this site) and you can see how uncomfortably close this all is from China's point of view:


But then again everything there is uncomfortably close. Especially that strait where all the shipping passes through between Singapore, Malaysia, and Indonesia. And the whole South China Sea itself.

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